Common Sleep Questions | Part 1

Does what I eat or drink affect my sleep?

Definitely. Caffeine and alcohol are the two biggest culprits, but other substances may affect your sleep too.

Caffeine even in small doses blocks sleep neurotransmitters. If you have a problem with sleep, cut out coffee and any caffeinated beverages (even in the morning). Caffeine is not just in coffee. It’s in colas and other soft drinks, tea, even some herbal teas, chocolate and some medications (Anacin and Excedrin, for example). There’s even a little caffeine in decaffeinated coffee. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant with a half life typically of up to 7 hours. But for some people it may be much longer especially if you are taking the oral contraceptive, some medications, have liver problems or just getting older.

Alcohol has an initial sleep inducing effect, but when broken down by the body, it can lighten sleep and causes frequent and early awakening. Alcohol interacts with GABA receptors, blocking the brain’s oxygen sensors, cutting oxygen and complicating sleep conditions, particularly for sleep apnea. Habitual alcohol consumption just before bedtime can reduce it’s sleep-inducing effect, while its disruptive effects continue or even increase

Tobacco acts as a stimulant and blocks sleep neurotransmitters.

Many medications, such as antihistamines, diuretics, antipsychotics, antidepressants decongestants, asthma medications, and some blood pressure medicines, also cause sleeplessness. If you’re taking any necessary medication that interrupts your sleep, talk with your doctor about an alternative.
Certain foods can cause food reactions or sensitivities which can effect your sleep cycle.

Refined grains and sugars before bed can raise blood sugar and overstress the organs involved in hormone regulation throughout the body. This hormone roller coaster can affect sleep cycles by waking you up at odd times during sleep as the hormone levels fluctuate.

Too many liquids in the 4 hrs before bed can effect you too. Try not to drink too much before turning in.

So eliminating caffeine, alcohol, sugar and refined grains and the common food allergens, gluten and dairy is a good place to start.

Working In Bed

What do I do if I can’t fall asleep?

Try some Melatonin. Melatonin can be helpful when you can’t fall asleep. Try taking nutrients that calm the body and mind. Look for a formula that has some of the following calming amino acids, L Theanine (100mg-300mg), 5 HTP (50-100mg), GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) (200-500mg), and possibly lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), which also has a sedative effect. Taking the minerals, calcium and magnesium at night is also helpful.

Create an electronic sundown. By 10pm, stop sitting in front of a computer screen (or TV screen) and switch off all electronic devices. It is too stimulating to the brain and it will take longer to fall asleep.

Prepare for bed. Try dimming the lights an hour or more before going to bed, take a warm bath, listen to calming music or do some restorative yoga or relaxation exercises. Just as you would clean a cluttered room, put things away (mentally and physically) that will distract you from going to sleep


What to do if I wake up at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning?

Try taking nutrients that calm the body and mind. Look for a formula that has some of the following calming amino acids, L Theanine (100mg-300mg), 5 HTP (50-100mg), GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) (200-500mg), and possibly lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), which also has a sedative effect. Taking the minerals, calcium and magnesium at night is also helpful.

Create a regular routine. Getting up and going to bed around the same time, even on weekends, is the most important thing you can do to establish good sleep habits. Our bodies thrive on regularity and a consistent sleep schedule is the best reinforcement for the body’s internal clock.

Waking and sleeping at set times reinforces a consistent sleep rhythm and reminds the brain when to release sleep and wake hormones, and more importantly, when not to.


For Dr. Frank Lipman, health is more than just the absence of disease: it is a total state of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing. Dr. Lipman is a widely recognized trailblazer and leader in functional and integrative medicine, and he is a New York Times best-selling author of five books, How To Be Well, The New Health Rules, 10 Reasons You Feel Old and Get Fat, Revive and Total Renewal.

After his initial medical training in his native South Africa, Dr. Lipman spent 18 months working at clinics in the bush. He became familiar with the local traditional healers, called sangomas, which kindled his interest in non-Western healing modalities.

In 1984, Dr. Lipman immigrated to the United States, where he became the chief medical resident at Lincoln Hospital in Bronx, NY. While there, he became fascinated by the hospital’s addiction clinic, which used acupuncture and Chinese medicine to treat people suffering from heroin and crack addiction. Seeing the way these patients responded so positively to acupuncture made him even more aware of the potential of implementing non- Western medicine to promote holistic wellbeing. As a medical student, he was taught to focus on the disease rather than the patient, and now as a doctor he found himself treating symptoms rather than the root causes of illness. Frustrated by the constraints of his training, and the limitations in helping his patients regain true health, he began a journey of discovery to search for the path to meaningful long-term health and wellness.

He began studying nutrition, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, functional medicine, biofeedback, meditation, and yoga. Dr. Lipman founded the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in 1992, where he combines the best of Western medicine and cutting edge nutritional science with age-old healing techniques from the East. As his patient chef Seamus Mullen told The New York Times, "If antibiotics are right, he'll try it. If it's an anti-inflammatory diet, he’ll do that. He’s looking at the body as a system rather than looking at isolated things."

In addition to his practice, Dr. Lipman is the creator of Be Well, an expanding lifestyle wellness brand he founded in 2010 to help people create, sustain and lead healthier lives.